Musings + Essays

A Rebours.

By: Jen Shoop

“It is all very well to survive the abundant months of spring and summer, but in winter, we witness the full glory of nature’s flourishing in lean times…Plants and animals don’t fight the winter; they don’t pretend it’s not happening and attempt to carry on living the same lives they lived in the summer. They prepare. They adapt. They perform extraordinary acts of metamorphosis to get them through. Wintering is a time of withdrawing from the world, maximizing scant resources, carrying out acts of brutal efficiency and vanishing from sight; but that’s where the transformation occurs. Winter is not the death of the life cycle, but its crucible.” – Katherine May, Wintering

In some ways, May’s words feel antithetical to my key takeaways around enduring this pandemic: whereas I set out to live “my one wild and precious life” in spite of the pandemic, she reminds us that our movements in times of adversity need not always be so frictional and against the grain. Maybe there are seasons designed for fallowness. Maybe we learn important things there, in the quiet and bare. Maybe we needn’t cup our hands around the tender green blades we’ve coaxed into sprouting out of season, a rebours.

Food for thought on this umpteenth morning of winter: do I lean against hibernation in ways that I needn’t?

In some ways, the question feels woefully out of sync with the times. Perhaps this is a flame I should have warmed my hands around back in March 2020. And maybe, some of us did — when we were busy designing elaborate day plans for our children, baking bread, installing trampolines in our backyards. But it’s never too late for an audit. Conditions have changed in our home, at least, over the past two years such that all four of us are now, suddenly, all able to sit down to enjoy the same movie (“Encanto”) while eating the same thing (pizza) and find genuine enjoyment in the exact same activity.

May concludes the passage above by noting:

“Once we stop wishing it were summer, winter can be a glorious season in which the world takes on a sparse beauty and even the pavements sparkle. It’s a time for reflection and recuperation, for slow replenishment, for putting your house in order. Doing these deeply unfashionable things — slowing down, letting your spare time expand, getting enough sleep, resting — is a radical act now, but it’s essential.”

Reading these lines within the easy metaphor for life during this pandemic rankles a bit: I find it difficult, even mildly toxic, to wax poetic about the “sparkle” in the pavement we’ve been walking, but I do like the underlying imperative to “stop wishing it were summer” when it is not. In short: how am I squaring up with less-than-ideal circumstances in a way that is helpful?


+More on the impulse to keep moving in the face of this pandemic.

+Some early thoughts on living life during a pandemic, written just a few weeks in…

+What energy are you sending out into the world on a daily basis?

+Lessons learned while hiking.

+One of the things I love most about my husband is his openness to joy.

+What would your last meal be?

Shopping Break.

+I have been getting a lot of wear out of this adorable $35 heart necklace. I like to layer it with other pieces! (Or you can up the ante with this gorgeous heart from Aurelia Demark!)

+I shared both of these yesterday but ICYMI, two GREAT Ulla-esque dresses for around $100: this terracotta colored one and this sweet pink (also avail in cream!)

+Mini is going to freak out over this Lego Encanto set on her birthday. We also bought her one of these storytelling boxes from Tonies and an American Girl Bitty Baby (her number 1 request!) along with some of her accessories.

+This wicker magazine basket is fab and well-priced.

+Love these white jeans.

+OMG these Gucci furlanes! J’adore J’ADORE!

+How cute is this recipe binder? Would be a great gift for a sister or girlfriend.

+This would make for a perfect baby bag.

+Love a gingham top.

+These bow napkins are adorable.

+Tempted by this elegant Emilia Wickstead top – 70% off!

+Gap Factory has some cute PJs out for littles ATM — love these painterly pastel stripes and these astronauts.

+These Birman sandals are splashy!\

+Fun silicon cutlery for babies.

+Cool girl jeans.

+Beauty products I’m currently obsessed with.

+Some great under $100 finds for spring.

+SEA really has my number — love everything about this dress.

+Cute birthday invitations for a little one.

+Gorgeous white statement top for under $70.

+More fun statement tops here.

+Love this black top, too. Not usually a black gal but love that one.

+$6 mittens for a little one — with the string! So genius! Why aren’t more children’s mittens made with these?!

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10 thoughts on “A Rebours.

  1. Hi Jenn,
    This is a well-timed reminder of accepting the season. I dread winter with every bone in me. A couple years ago I decided to really embrace the holidays and make them last beyond December. I’m always so busy and feel like we didn’t get to everything on my list. So I decided I’d bake the pies and cocktails I had tabbed but couldn’t get to, I’d keep burning the remnants of my pine-scented candles, play holiday jazz on the dark nights, and my lights don’t come down until Valentine’s. The slow unwinding helps me deal with the holiday hangover and to also ignore the bottomless months of January and February.

    I love this article, because yes we have to accept when and where we are. Despite my reluctance.

    1. I love the idea of making December extend beyond its designated month. I’m going to keep this in mind myself! I agree – Jan/Feb are interminable, with not much to look forward after the festivity of the holidays.


  2. I have always held the deeply unpopular perspective on winter: I love it! I enjoy ALL the seasons, but I have a soft spot for the post-holiday weeks of winter when I can pull back, rest, reflect. and rebalance myself in preparation for spring. When I was raising my children, January was the ONLY month that wasn’t packed with sports and lessons and other activities. It was a slow ramp up to spring and I loved that chance to catch my breath. Even now, winter (esp January) is a welcome pause – the hubs goes hunting every weekend, the preschool is quieter as we prep for registration, I have more margin than other times of year. That being said, I can see how the pandemic weariness of young parents can make these bleak weeks tiresome. Praying you find some margin to enjoy nonetheless. 🙂 xo H

    1. Hi Heidi – I love the visual/notion of “margins” during these slower months. Thanks for sharing that! xx

  3. This quote! I was just sharing that I have been curious about how to define “my story” in my own heart and head. Do I accept my story as it is, filled with pain and grief and sadness? Or do I rewrite it in a way that is less painful? With the help of a trusted therapist, I have decided to own my story, even though it’s heartbreaking. I am in my own winter, so to speak, and I am choosing to accept it, not pretend it’s not happening. As I withdraw for a time, I am hoping transformation happens.

    Lots to think about. Thank you, as always, for sharing.

    1. Hi Danielle – Thank you so much for sharing this so candidly. I’m sorry to hear you’re navigating tough times and wish you smoother seas. I agree that facing the music rather than pretending its not happening is usually the best way through, as painful as it is. Thinking of you! Here’s to transformations major and minor. xx

  4. LOVE your “shopping breaks”, this is how I wake up every morning, reading your blog and perusing your shopping breaks! Thank you for staring my day off on the right foot ! Now….start work…..

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